BELLY DANCING - A MANLY DANCE?
Ryersonian staff shakes his bon bon during the RAC's dance program, discovering his inner rhythms
Reprinted from the Ryersonian - January 28, 2004
by Eddie Chau
Peering into the window of the RAC's dance studio made me very nervous. "Are you here for the belly dancing class?" asked a young woman with a surprised look on her face. I guess she never suspected a guy would ever take a belly dancing class.
As the students from the proceeding Salsa class emptied the room. I quietly entered and sat down on a nearby bench. not even a minute went by before the room filled up with women. I knew right there I would be out of my element. The instructor, Meagan Browne, who is known on stage as Mayada, greeted the class with a warm smile. "I recognize a couple of you, but I haven't seen you before," said Browne with a smile as she pointed to me. Some of the women in the class glanced at me with delight while others looked genuinely shocked. It was going to be a long night. The class began with a set of warm-up exercises, twisting and rotating various body parts which included the legs, arms, and waist. All that twisting made me realize that my body wasn't as limber as it once was in my younger days. After about five minutes; it felt like my spine was about to shatter from all the contortions. I was beginning to to think that I didn't belong in the class.
The first movement taught was called an "undulate", which can be best described as a downward body wave involving the chest, stomach, and pelvis. The move looked very sensual when the women nailed it, but my version just looked like I was having a rather large muscle spasm. "You're more of a body waver than an undulater." said Browne as she pointed out my faults. At this point I couldn't keep up with the class. My coordination abilities were scrambled. It took a while, but things really picked up for me when I was introduced to a cross-over step movement where I curled my foot inward, and then planted it down with force. The set of foot patterns flowed with such grace that I soon found myself in sync with the rest of the class. It was rather thrilling. The exotic mix of the Egyptian style music that played in the background really set the pace of the dance. It started out slow, but eventually quickened which brought an energetic pace to the dance. "See, you're getting the hang of it." said one of the girls. It was strange to see myself in the mirror, standing in front of the class, swinging my body around. I didn't care if it dampened my masculine ego, belly dancing was starting to get fun. The final movement that was taught was the combination hip and butt gyration. It can be best described as shaking your bottom in a figure eight motion. This was the money shot, the move that I mastered in no time. "I think you've got it now." said Browne while watching my progress. I found my niche, I was game, and I shook my bon-bon like Ricky Martin. I felt so free and so liberated at the same time. It's weird to say that the dancing actually tuned me into my well hidden feminine side.
My butt starts to numb after eight minutes of spinning my hips and I feel a little light headed. The music stps and the class has officially ended. My knees have weakened so much from the constant giggling that I collapse into the fetal position. My body began aching immediately from the rhythmic movements it was not used to. Despite the numerous aches and pains, I really enjoyed the belly dancing experience. Highly energetic with an erotic flavour, belly dancing is both entertaining and physical. I was enlightened, entertained, and givena powerful workout at the same time. Considered mainly a female oriented dance, I don't see why guys shouldn't give it a try. I would certainly give belly dancing another shot in the future. Just have to give my body a chance to recover from the first experience.